Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Flyer announces orders, No NW agencies mentioned


BART, Unions making no progress, Deadline Thursday


Already one down against new Light Rail in Seattle

Man walking tracks killed by Link light rail train

Man walking tracks killed by Link light rail train

By KOMO Staff

SEATTLE -- A man was struck and killed by a Sound Transit Link light rail train as he walked the railroad tracks in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood late Monday night.

The collision occurred just before midnight about 100 yards south of Holgate Street. Police say the man was walking in an area off limits to pedestrians.

No one on board the train was injured. All passengers were taken off the train and shuttled to the next stop via bus. Investigators say no one witnessed the crash.

Light rail service was not affected Tuesday.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My take on the BART Fiasco (rant)

I once thought this was one of the best transit agencies out there. It was the coolest. Not anymore. I am actually thinking about avoiding BART like the plague. Today it has been told that BART and the unions have until Thursday July 30th to come to terms, or layoffs will begin or a contract will be "Forced" on the workers.

This is unacceptable behavior, on Management AND the workers part. A story was posted on a San Francisco news station about how management lives luxurious lifestyles at work. Expensive meals and travel. Nearly 3 million in 8 years. Now one person left a comment that thats not bad out of 3200 workers. Except heres the problem, only management is reaping those benefits, 50-60 people. Also BART approved a $522 million project to connect the Oakland Airport with the Oakland Coliseum Station. A service currently provided by AirBart and AC Transit. I have ridden AC transit on this line, it wasn't busy, AirBart was never standing room only. So why are they spending that kind of money, When all they are trying to save is $300 million?

The employees are also getting out of control. I agree with many of the people that state the customer service skills could be better, don't get me wrong, there are some nice station agents, but a few I have had to encounter, give you the attitude like your bothering their day (Like some MAX Operators). Sure I dont know what they have been thru for the day, but that doesn't matter, if the public routinely angers you, this is not a position for you. None of the employees want to make sacrifices. No pay raise for 3 years. Big friggin whoop!!! LOTS of employees are facing pay CUTS, many have lost their jobs!! Are you living outside your means that you need a payraise in an economy that isn't supporting any? The employees need to tighten up their belt, if they don't like the pay freeze, they are free to quit, and find employment elsewhere that may better meet their needs.

Management, this is a sour subject for the whole country right now. Dorothy Dugger, BARTs General Manager makes over $400k a year plus bonuses and benefits. Fred Hansen Makes over $250k per year plus benefits. Are we so self absorbed that we must make this crazy sum of money?? This is a public agency after all!! The governor (of Oregon) and Mayor (of Portland) make about Hansens wage combined!!! A lot of people you see making this money drive fancy cars, live in REALLY nice places, and are more or less assholes to the rest of the world (I am not being specific here), Rude to others, drive like they own the road etc etc. You don't NEED these things. A manger should live nicely on $125k. Sure you cant buy a Bentley, but you can buy a decent car that will provide its purpose, going from A to B. Cant afford that top floor Penthouse? Or lavish mansion in NW? Oh well, you don't NEED it, find a nice house that will suit your NEEDS. And finally, lose the attitude. You are no better because you make more money. To further this point, they way these top paid employees spend the money only can relate to how they spend in life, look at Sam Adams. Stop spending the money on stupid projects (Oakland Connector) and start improving service.

TriMet is another story, have you seen the Milwauke Light Rail project? What a poorly planned project. It could be better off as a streetcar. FOREMOST, ALL MAX projects need to be halted until bus service is improved!!!!! No more spending money on rail cars or rail lines until all the buses over 12 years old are replaced, and bus service is restored to levels seen before the recession, if not improved with better service. MAX is useless without the bus, fix the bus, then we can talk about adding MAX.

Lastly, Like Seattle, all MAX projects should be put before the voters, like BART, all Board of Directors should be elected from the area to represent the citizens and their needs, and not Fred Hansens projects!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Stalled Talks Could Mean Layoffs at BART

A new threat is looming if contract negotiations between BART and unions stall.

Watch Video

BART spokesman Linton Johnson tells reporters the plan offered to BART workers is not an option because, "They're trying to sell the public on a plan that...

If a contract is not agreed upon soon, BART will begin laying off workers.

"They are going to stall and stall. It's not fair to the riders," BART spokesman Linton Johnson said. "We are going to have to start laying off people, probably station agents."

Union leaders say there is a current proposal on the table that would save $760 million but BART says state policies make the plan unworkable. Agency spokesman Linton Johnson said the plan offered to BART workers is not an option because, "They're trying to sell the public on a plan that doesn't exist."

Carlos Rivera, of Local SEIU 1021 says this is another one of BART's threats to workers.

"Yesterday it was imposition, today it's layoffs." Rivera told the Contra Costa Times, "We are perplexed because we have a proposal on the table that would save $760 million."

Members of the SEIU 1021rejected the offer last week with 98.5% of voters saying "no" to the terms just two days after the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents about 900 train operators, station agents and power workers, voted unanimously also to reject the offer.

The SEIU represents over 1,400 mechanics, custodians, safety inspectors and clerical employees. Only 16 members voted to accept the deal, which would save $100 million over four years. Negotiations between the unions and the transit agency began April 1.

The transit agency is trying to close a $310 million deficit over the next four years.

After years of delay, Seattle makes the Link

by The Oregonian Editorial Board
Thursday July 23, 2009, 12:06 PM

It's long overdue, but the opening of the city's 14-mile light-rail line is a milestone in the Northwest

The complaints were only sporadic. Still, they had a familiar ring. No doubt you've heard them all before in connection with Portland's light-rail system.

Jammed ticket machines. Inadequate bike storage. Woefully insufficient parking, as if people won't, mostly, drive to the train. (Prediction: They will.)

Only in this case, people weren't talking about MAX. They were talking about the new 14-mile light-rail line, dubbed the Link, that opened Saturday between downtown Seattle and Tukwila. It was first authorized by voters 13 long years, and many frustrating delays, ago.

To be sure, the new line thus far is mainly drawing rave reviews, and sighs of relief from Seattle residents, who have eagerly awaited its coming. They will be even more relieved, no doubt, when a promised connection to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is finished in late December.

An estimated 92,000 passengers celebrated the opening with a free ride over the weekend. But critics of the new line did predict parking along the route would be in ridiculously short supply. Why? In part, the critics contend that Sound Transit hasn't built enough train stations along the line.

That is not a complaint you hear often in Portland. In fact, if anything, complaints here run in the opposite direction: too many stops, too many slowdowns, especially in the downtown area. "Right now we have 64 light-rail stations," TriMet's Mary Fetsch said Tuesday. When the new Green Line opens in September, Portland will have 84 stations along 52 miles of track.

But, remember, the Portland region has built the system with the conscious intention of using light-rail trains and stations to spur development. Seattle has the same hope; it's just too soon to know whether, in its selection of a route and choice of stations and all other variables, it's on the right track.

Portland has a huge head start over its neighbor to the north. Yet Seattle can rightfully boast that voters have put their support and their money into catching up as best they can. Despite fissures in the environmental community and manifest crankiness about light rail over the past decade, public support for it in the Seattle metropolitan area is now deep, wide and very, very clear. A startling election last November made it obvious.

Given the grim state of the economy, many predicted Proposition 1 would go down to a defeat. It just didn't seem like a great time to add a half-cent to the existing sales tax to finance a $17.9 billion light-rail expansion.

But voters in parts of three metropolitan counties approved the expansion 57 percent to 43 percent. In other words, even before the new light-rail line opened last weekend, voters had already committed to dipping into their pockets for another 36 miles of track. This will take light rail to Lynnwood, Federal Way and Redmond (and the Microsoft campus).

"It was kind of an amazing vote," David Ammons, communications director for the secretary of state's office, said Tuesday. One transit leader called Proposition 1 "an act of great generosity to our grandchildren."

Either that, or voters had a different take on their own self-interest. As many test-riders acknowledged last weekend, they are tired of being stuck in traffic. They want options, and they want to live in a city smart and farsighted enough to supply more options.

Also, it's true, a few Seattle residents have wandered down this way a time or two and liked the look and feel of riding MAX. A cosmopolitan city all but requires some kind of rail system.

It took a while. In fact, it took too long. But Seattle voters deserve enormous credit for patience and stamina. It is paying off.

They've finally made the Link.

*My Reply** Just like LINK Light Rail, ALL MAX projects should be put before the voters!!! That way, if we feel bus service is suffering (which it is), We can shoot Fred down every time until the system at least in acceptable shape. If MAX projects weren't such a priority, there would be little to no service cuts. Period.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Seattle Videos

New Videos Up from my Weekend in Seattle......3 New Timelapses, including the new LINK Light Rail line!!! Plus a video from the opening day and 2 bus lines in Seattle. Check them out, Comment, and Rate!!! =)

Monday, July 13, 2009

TriMets Budget Woes

The problem may simply be:

-That there are thousands of buses deadheading while only hundreds of buses are in service

Sounds logical (May not be true in numbers, but the concept might be)

The stop numbers ARE on the signs on the Mall

So I have heard some complain theres no stop numbers on the Route Signs along the New Bus Mall. The stop number is on the nearby maps:

But sometimes those are a bit away, so it would be better to have the stop number right there on the sign the bus stops at. Well.....it is.......

Can you see it? Its on there......

How about now? Can you see it?

Right there in the lower Right Hand corner, is the stop number. Granted you may need a magnifying glass to see it, but they put it on there. We checked a few other stops, and its consistent.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why TriMet needs to go to a SmartCard Fare System

Transit agencies lose money from fare evaders. In Portland this is most commonly seen thru MAX Rides. But lets look at the other side of things, Transfer abuse. I actually have seen one person selling a stack of Transfers on eBay! I have seen people walk up to the bus wondering what Transfer they should use today by looking thru the window to see todays Letter and color. The first step many agencies have taken are eliminating transfers, forcing many to purchase a day pass for a flat rate, that typically is slightly more than 2 rides. Day Passes can be sold, Transfers abused, all this ends with the SmartCard. Each rider has a card, registered to them, with money or a monthly pass on it. If you use the e-cash option, some agencies are bringing transfers back, allowing you to transfer with a specified time limit with your card. Cash customers (non-card) still must pay per boarding with no transfer issued. The card will help agencies recoup more fares, since you can not save up transfers when the only way is a timed smartcard. TriMet would benefit from this system. San Diego is making the SmartCard smarter. It costs $2-2.50 to ride a local or express bus, and $4 for premium express routes, the day passes are $5 and $11 respectively. In the local ride instance, if you board a bus for $2.25, your ecash is charged 2.25 off your card, if you transfer, or board another bus, you are charged the fare again of $2.25. If you board once more, you are only charged $0.50 more for the rest of the day, effectively maxing out at the daypass rate. You then transfer and ride the rest of the day at no charge.

In TriMets case, They could follow Seattle footstep a little bit. Tag as you get on, get charged $2.30, If you get off before crossing 2 zone lines, tag as you exit to get a $0.30 credit. Tag on and off at MAX Platforms. Allow transfers for 2 hours, note if you cross that 3rd zone, the card will know and will recharge the $0.30, OR, no transfers at all, charge $2 per boarding until you hit the $4.50 day pass amount, and have it max out. You can also load monthly passes onto this card, and not worry about transfers. One thing the card would help on with monthly passes, Upgrades! If you buy a 1-2 zone pass often, but only ride 3 zones occasionally, as long as you have an ecash balance, the card can charge the upgrade of $0.30 charge for the one trip on the Bus AND MAX (Currently you can not buy an upgrade for MAX from a vending machine). IF you have no ecash on the card, the vending machines will let you add value, and the value never expires. The Fare inspectors card readers would tell them where the passenger boarded, non tagged cards are as good as having no ticket at all. The readers only tell them where it was tagged last, what pass you have or if its expired. You can add passes or ecash online, by calling in, visiting a customer service office, or at vending machines. Makes boarding faster and easier as well. It would help trimet better gather figures of where people are boarding and alighting. Best of all, if you lose the card, or it gets stolen, a simple phone call shuts it off and you get a new card with what you had on your lost card. In the end, i think the SmartCard system is a good idea for transit, many other systems have already adopted it, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Atlanta, Wash DC, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Miami, Minneapolis, just to name a few. Time to get onboard TriMet!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Another car blocks the Streetcar

Some Say No one uses the Streetcar

It was pretty handy the evening of July 4th:

Onboard b/t Riverplace and OHSU-
At Harrison St Roadway Stop-

Walt Disney World Monorail Crash

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Little video I made about WES


New MAX hurts bus riders

From July 4th's Print Edition Letters to the Editor:

I cannot rejoice over the new MAX line from Clackamas Town Center to downtown because bus riders are being shortchanged.

First, TriMet cuts bus lines and frequency of service. My own line has been cut so much -- only running a few times each week day -- that it's essentially worthless. I now have to walk more than half a mile to catch a bus.

Then, TriMet downgraded the world-class transit mall by cutting the number of bus stops in half. Now, TriMet proposes to eliminate Fareless Square for bus riders but not for MAX riders. The agency is demonstrating that it considers bus riders second-class citizens.

Southwest Portland

I agree with this person that the bus service is the least priority in TriMets eyes. They are quick to purchase new MAX trains, but lag on new bus purchases, even ones that can handle capacity on high ridership lines and rush hour runs. If it was TriMets way, MAX would be up and down every street. Lets ramp up bus service before any more MAX trains are purchased!